The Effects of High Sugar Intake on Lactation

High sugar intake while breastfeeding could alter the composition of breast milk and result in a less suitable profile for your baby.
The Effects of High Sugar Intake on Lactation
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Reviewed and approved by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 16 December, 2022

High sugar intake during breastfeeding could be counterproductive for the baby’s health in the future. This is because the composition of breast milk will vary slightly, with a higher concentration of carbohydrates in it. This will increase the incidence of certain metabolic diseases over the years, as in the case of type 2 diabetes.

Before starting, it’s important to mention that during the breastfeeding period, it’s necessary that you continue with the care of your diet in order to provide the best food to your baby. This will ensure the correct development of your little one, helping to prevent the development of alterations in the physiology that may later have repercussions on its state of well-being.

Be careful with sugar

In general terms, it’s positive to ensure the presence of carbohydrates in the diet, but always prioritize the complex carbohydrates. On the contrary, there’s evidence that simple carbohydrates increase the incidence of metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. For this reason, we should try to moderate their consumption and ensure that whenever they appear in dishes, they’re accompanied by a dose of fiber that modulates their absorption.

A mother breastfeeding her baby at the dining room table.
The consumption of simple sugars during breastfeeding can produce an increase in the accumulation of fat and the weight of the baby at 6 months of life.

During breastfeeding, precautions should be taken

This recommendation would make even more sense during the breastfeeding period. Dietary simple carbohydrates could alter the carbohydrate content of the milk itself. Thus, they would provide the baby with more of these nutrients than necessary. This process is linked to cognitive deficits in the baby and a higher risk of later metabolic disturbances. This situation could lead to an increased risk of becoming overweight.

According to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, a high consumption of simple sugars or trans fats could result in an increase in infant adiposity and weight at 6 months of age. This will be negative, as it will raise the levels of inflammation in the internal environment.

It’s important to consider an adequate diet

During pregnancy, it’s important to take care of the diet to avoid the ingestion of toxins or elements that can reach the fetus and harm its development. But during the breastfeeding period, certain precautions must also be taken in order to achieve optimal nutrition for little ones. For this reason, it’s important to consolidate a series of good habits of life in the mother.

The most important things are the following:

  • Prioritize the consumption of proteins of high biological value as well as vegetables.
  • Include an extra intake of omega-3 fatty acids: These are associated with a reduction of inflammation and with a better cognitive development of the baby. They may even reduce the incidence of certain autoimmune problems such as allergies and food intolerances.
  • Breastfeeding as the main food: This is recommended at least until the first year of life. Breast milk is the best product that can be given to a baby, as it not only contains nutrients. The proportion of nutrients is excellent, but it also provides bioactive substances that will increase the efficiency of the immune system. Even the microbiota of the digestive tract will be much more diverse when breastfeeding.
A woman smiling at her baby in a baby carrier while she prepares a salad for herself.
During breastfeeding, special care must be taken with sugar consumption. It’s best to opt for foods with high fiber content and carry out other healthy habits such as exercise and ensuring proper rest.

Sugar consumption during breastfeeding should be moderated

As you’ve seen, you have to be careful with high sugar intake during breastfeeding and try not to overdo it. Otherwise, the baby’s metabolism will be affected. The best thing to do is to promote the intake of foods that are high in fiber. This is because the carbohydrates present in them are slower to digest and take time to reach the systemic circulation. Finally, don’t forget that other good habits, apart from diet, should also be promoted in order to produce excellent quality milk.

Maintaining an active lifestyle, with a predominance of strength work, will make a difference. Similarly, it’s advisable to sleep at least 7 to 8 hours a day to stimulate recovery processes and ensure hormonal balance.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Yoshida, Y., & Simoes, E. J. (2018). Sugar-Sweetened Beverage, Obesity, and Type 2 Diabetes in Children and Adolescents: Policies, Taxation, and Programs. Current diabetes reports18(6), 31.
  • Nagel, E. M., Jacobs, D., Johnson, K. E., Foster, L., Duncan, K., Kharbanda, E. O., Gregg, B., Harnack, L., Fields, D. A., & Demerath, E. W. (2021). Maternal Dietary Intake of Total Fat, Saturated Fat, and Added Sugar Is Associated with Infant Adiposity and Weight Status at 6 mo of Age. The Journal of nutrition151(8), 2353–2360.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.